Asthma and vitamin D

April 4, 2013

This week’s blog will be focused on the importance of Vitamin D and its role in asthma and respiratory health.

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” as it is manufactured by the action of sunlight on the skin. In conjunction with calcium, Vitamin D helps to build and maintain strong healthy bones. It does this by assisting the body to absorb calcium more effectively.

In the last few years, the importance of Vitamin D for bone health has been drummed into our heads by doctors, health professionals and the media. But did you know that Vitamin D is also involved in regulating more than 200 genes responsible for normal cellular health? Besides bone health, Vitamin D is beneficial for the immune system, blood glucose metabolism and for the respiratory system.

A UK based study conducted in 2009 demonstrated that Vitamin D is capable of inhibiting inflammatory responses in the lungs whilst boosting the body’s natural immune defences against respiratory pathogens. Also Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections and tuberculosis. This study highlights the importance Vitamin D can play for those with asthma and other types of respiratory conditions.

One in three Australian’s are Vitamin D deficient. It is therefore necessary to test for Vitamin D and if a deficiency is detected, to correct it. This is vital because for many people, upper respiratory tract infections can be a trigger for an asthmatic episode. Also if the immune system can be boosted to minimise the frequency of respiratory infections, then the incidence of asthma can be reduced.

People with an increased risk of Vitamin D deficiency include:

People with low to little sun exposure
Individuals with naturally dark skin
Older adults
Over weight individuals
People who cover up their whole body and face with long robes
Breast fed babies with mothers who are Vitamin D deficient
The best way to test for Vitamin D is through blood. According to most pathology labs, a sufficient serum level of Vitamin D is between 50 – 200 nmol/L. However, the goal is to reach the optimal serum level for Vitamin D which is between 100 – 150 nmol/L, especially if an individual has a respiratory condition, osteoporosis, low immunity or blood glucose dis-regulation.

Food sources of Vitamin D include:

Oily fish such as Herring, Sardines, Salmon, Tuna, Cod, Catfish, Mackerel
Egg yolk
Fortified milk, bread and cereals
Food sensitivities are a common trigger for people who have asthma. Continual intake of allergenic foods can damage the gastric lining in the digestive tract, promote inflammation and lead to low hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which is another trigger for asthma patients.

Successful naturopathic asthma treatment will involve identifying potential food sensitivities/allergens that are causing the asthmatic episodes and then eliminating it from the diet. This is important so that the gut has time to heal.

Sometimes, dietary intake of Vitamin D alone is not enough to increase serum Vitamin D levels, particularly if an individual is already quite deficient. This is when supplementation is needed and finding the right brand of supplement important.

However, it is common to overlook the ingredients, excipients and preservatives that are contained in supplements. Many people can be sensitive and intolerant to soy. Interestingly, some of the major Vitamin D products on the market contain soy oil, which acts as a preservative and stabiliser.

Here at Saltuary, we stock a high quality practitioner Vitamin D product that is low allergenic. Instead of soy oil, this product uses rice bran oil as a stabiliser. Additionally it contains no preservatives and is gluten, dairy and lactose free which makes it ideal for people with food sensitivities.

If you are interested in buying this Vitamin D product, please pop into Saltuary and have a chat with me or one of our friendly staff.

Keep in mind that Vitamin D is fat soluble, so it is best taken with food to maximise absorption. Additionally, it takes approximately 3 months before changes in serum Vitamin D can be detected.

I hope this information has been helpful.

Wishing you vibrant health and happiness,


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